At least Nick Clegg has been exposed for what he is

A few months ago, in the wake of the capitulation coalition agreement with the Tories, I said in an interview with Gavin Esler on the the Today programme on Radio 4 that "Nick Clegg has made us look like liars and fools".

At that time I felt it to be true, and I still do because within days of telling people that the Tories would be a disaster, how only the Lib Dems would oppose a rise in VAT, how only the Lib Dems would oppose further nuclear power, how only the Lib Dems would oppose a rise in tuition fees, we sold out on these policies for the chance of a voting system our leader publicly criticised, and a few other scraps from the Tories table.

So for the last few months I have been an embarrassed and ashamed Lib Dem given the way Nick Clegg and his cronies have hailed every Tory policy as a Lib Dem triumph (an example of this was seen again in the weekly email Nick Clegg sends out), whilst ignoring the fact that policies claimed as Lib Dem successes are peripheral to most people (voting reform), do not reflect party policy (privatisation of the Royal Mail) or were in fact policies in the Tory manifesto anyway (the pupil premium).

I have felt personally to blame for misleading people in my area when I delivered so many leaflets hailing what the Liberal Democrats would do in parliament. I felt the policies were good. I was told they were costed. In short, and call me deluded, I believed what Nick Clegg told me. But today, I have some hope of redemption. Nick Clegg told ITV regarding his broken pledge to students that
"You need to be careful. I should have been more careful perhaps in signing that pledge at the time. At the time I thought we could do it."
If I am putting my own spin on this statement, it appears to me that he is saying he was foolish to sign it. Or in hindsight perhaps he was an idiot to sign it ?

Either way, it's not me who was the liar and fool.


Alan said...

But this is exactly what you get with PR - coalitions mean that parties do not implement their manifestos, and thus cannot be held to account.

That's one of the many reasons I don't like PR. I hope you will also vote against it in the referendum. (Not holding my breath though).

Anonymous said...

He's a fool for breaking it.

A small but significant difference.

Anonymous said...

But that was what happened with FPTP - a coalition government.

I'm sick of all this belly-aching by the left in my party and the far left.

If you've got other solutions let's have 'em.

They seem to think they have a monopoly on feeling the angst every LD member is feeling.

As for the economically illiterate me me me CIF and NUS crowd - i'd be careful what they wish for. Should the AV vote go down they might find a solution that provides people from Browne on the right to Simon on the left with a party to join that excludes the old dinosaurs that won't conform on the Tory benches.

Anyone for a permanent majority for a `liberal peoples party` commanding what, even in the toughest of times 45% of the vote?

Mike said...


If the Browne review is on the right, where are the government, considering the government's changes are less progressive even than the Browne reviews recommendations?


As for the NUS- these changes won't affect existing students, it's not 'me me me' it's worry for the people who'll come after, the working class people for whom the amount of debt they incur from just one year of university will put them off from taking the risk. I, as the first of my family to even go to college, would not have leapt into the unknown if it could possibly have left me that far in debt having failed.

And it's about the lecturers who will lose their jobs, and the courses that will be cut to the bare bones if they keeping running at all.

And what do you mean by economically illiterate? Have you bought into the silly idea that these deep cuts are actually necessary?

Hell, the NIESR recommends *halving* the cuts and raising direct taxes as the most efficient way to get the deficit down quickly. Even not counting the social effects of the cuts, looking only at the deficit they aren't even the most efficient way to sort it out.

Anonymous said...

It seems that some people only enjoy permanent opposition and campaign for PR in the expectation that it will never happen. If your attitude to political life is based on the premise of the glass being half empty, and that compromise is a dirty word, then you you should join a religious order rather than a political party - though I wouldn't recommend the Church of England - just ask Rowan Williams how difficult it is to manage a broad church.

Anonymous said...

"I have felt personally to blame for misleading people in my area when I delivered so many leaflets hailing what the Liberal Democrats would do in parliament."

And so you should!

I was a student living in Norwich South in May and I voted for your lot after speaking to your man Simon Wright. He told me about how you guys wanted to at least stop an increase in tuition fees. And how you were opposed to increasing VAT.

I look at his voting record so far and Simon hasn't rebelled at all, he voted for an increase in VAT when he specifically told me he wouldn't. I guess it just goes to show your party can't be trusted but to have someone basically lie to my face is totally wrong. Especially when I've seen Clegg on telly saying its time for promises to be kept.

At least I know where the other two parties are, most of the time, but with you guys - your just lying all the time.

I'll make sure I never vote for your lot again and if I see one of your canvassers I'll give them an ear full.

Norfolk Blogger said...

We were both mislead. You say I should be ashamed that I was mislead. Should you be ashamed too ?

dougf said...

Yeah as Nick Clegg says he should never have made that (stupid) pledge. Live and learn. But the important part of that is the 'stupid' part. It is NOT AFFORDABLE in these conditions. It had to go. Period. The End.

But the response by the 'students'---
'We are entitled to our entitlements !! '

You Promised !!!
Yeah, I'm misting up right now, just thinking about the injustice of it all.

ps --- Nice demo yesterday, by the way. Classy.

Anonymous said...

@Norfolk Blogger

I didn't go out delivering leaflets, canvass or preach online about how great the libdems are.

Have you torn your membership card up yet?


Your party lies to electorate and you're taking the piss, goes to show how warped you are by tribalism.

You, Clegg & Cable knew the financial situation in April, the deficit was actually £20bn *lower* than first forecast. So, don't try the its unaffordable now rubbish - nothing has changed economically since April.

Anonymous said...

The fees hike is nothing to do with affordable or unaffordable. According to Gideon's own figures, the debt will be paid off by 2014 so there is no need to do this. It is just an ideologically motivated privatisation of higher education and a pandering to producer interests in the Russell group.
Stop trying to cover up one lie with another.

Anonymous said...

@dougf "It is NOT AFFORDABLE in these conditions."

So are they going to lower the tuition fee cap again once the deficit is sorted? No. The £9000 is not motivated by the deficit.

dougf said...

"So are they going to lower the tuition fee cap again once the deficit is sorted? No. The £9000 is not motivated by the deficit."

Umm, maybe not, maybe yes, but that whole deficit sorting thingy --- I wouldn't count on that happening any time soon. The UK and the whole West is in a major restructuring phase and the cash is GONE. That is what the G20 meeting in Seoul is about. You know the one that's tanking because no-one has any answers to the PROBLEM and everyone now has to protect their own populations. The deficit will not be under control for a very long time and even when it is under control the old days won't be coming back any time soon. It's lean and mean from now on.

You build an entire economy on consumption based on forever debt and BAD THINGS happen. To Everyone. Eventually.
Let's repeat --- no more money for education is or will be available for the foreseeable future. That's why the Coalition is forced to do this. Not because it amuses them.

Denying it won't help, I'm afraid. You might not be interested in reality, but reality is interested in you. Whether you adjust is up to you but reality won't be changing to suit you.

LibCync said...

"telling people that...only the Lib Dems would oppose a rise in VAT"

Well, why did you tell them that? Maybe we were watching a different campaign, but we repeatedly said that we won't rule our raising VAT and the only thing about VAT we did say was that unfunding Tory pledges would need the same as a VAT rise to pay for them.

"do not reflect party policy (privatisation of the Royal Mail)"

Er, except that is party policy, I remember voting for it.

Alaric said...

People seem to be unaware that a political party is an umbrella group for a variety of opinions. There is a tremendous amount of debate ongoing within the Lib Dems on a range of issue, and the consultation process has just finished. The long term aim for the Lib Dems is still a tuition fee(introduced by Labour in case you had forgotten) free university education scheme. I personally would like a return of the polytechnic, and for people to view a university education as a reward rather than a right.

The coalition is going to upset people from all parties, but to try to hold the Lib Dems to manifesto pledges is a little naive - the Conservatives have 307 MPS to the Lib Dems 57. Depsite this, the Lib Dems have managed to push through a return to index linked pensions, a substantial increase in the personal allowance with a view to attaining a £10k threshold, and, in an article in the Daily Mail complaining about the disproportionate influence the Lib Dems have had, the following policies made it through the CSR

1 International Aid: A massive increase in funding for the Department for International Development, up from £7.9 billion to £11.4 billion over four years, an increase of 44 per cent in cash terms
2 Green Investment Bank: £1 billion in cash plus the proceeds of future asset sales to fund investment in offshore wind farms and other projects
3 Carbon Capture Storage: A £1 billion investment in a ‘carbon capture’ scheme, to take the carbon emissions from a power station and store them deep underground
4 Child Tax Credits: Available to families earning under £41,329 from April and under £23,275 from 2012, will go up by £30 in 2011 and £50 in 2012, at a cost of £560million a year by 2014
5 Sure Start: The Coalition has chosen to protect its budget in cash terms
6 Regional Growth Fund: A taxpayer-funded pot of cash, worth £1.4 billion over three years, with the aim of pumping money into areas of the country especially hard-hit by cutbacks in the size of the state
Childcare for two-year-olds: From 2013, disadvantaged two-year-olds will be entitled to 15 hours or more of childcare paid for by the taxpayer a week
7 National Scholarship Fund: Worth £150million a year by 2014, this will help pay for higher education for poorer children
8 Museum Charges: The Government is still funding free entry to museums in Britain.

Although unhappy with the way the cuts are being decided, and George Osborne in general, I am happy that the Labour Government of ID Cards, bombing Iraq, mass surveillance, unfair taxation and an economic fiasco, who's elected representatives stand by a cheat and a liar, are no longer in power.

Anonymous said...

LibSync - You are falling for the same trap the Lib Dems are falling for, which NorfolkBlogger highlighted.

You are claiming a policy which is not Lib Dem policy.

The Lib Dem policy WAS NOT for only 10% to be retained for staff. If was for a 49% sell off.

You just can't help yourself, claiming credit for a policy which is not your own party's own approved policy.

As for VAT, remember the Lib Dem VAT BOMB campaign aimed at the Tories ?

Such short memories

Anonymous said...

Alaric, much of this was Tory policy anyway.

More credit claiming for things that would have happened anyway.

The Tories pledged to support international development funding increasing.

The Tories had actually said (and Cameron made the pledge during the campaign) that Sure Start would be kept.

Other policies listed were also things the Tories had never opposed.

You are trying to claim credit for everything the Tories are doing.

English Pensioner said...

Coalition Governments work because there has to be compromise, otherwise there is no government, as in Iraq for nearly a year since the elections.
If that had happened here, Brown would still be at the helm as a "caretaker" PM.
And as the LibDems are keen on some form of proportional representation, can you (or any of your readers) name any country that has PR and does NOT have a coalition? Is there any reason to believe that with PR we wouldn't end up with the same situation in this country?
If LibDems were to flatly refuse to join a coalition on the basis that they could not deviate from their manifesto, I can't see how they would ever get into in government.
I get the impression that some LibDems aren't thinking logically.

Norfolk Blogger said...

Its not coalitions I am particularly angry about. it is that the party has compromised on so many of its key principles. The big issues that won us votes are those we have abandoned. The small issues that matter to party political types might placate those who go to conference, but not voters at large.

I remain a Lib Dem because I look around the council chamber and see that the people I sit with are more like me and care more about the things that I care about than those on the other side of the chamber. That's why I remain a Lib Dem.

Its the only reason I remain a Lib Dem.

Anonymous said...

...that and the fact that you've got no bollocks or principles, and you like attention.

Go independent.

Derek Wall said...

Good for you, internal politics in any party is never totally nice (as you have pointed out before), credit to you for criticising Nick Clegg.

Orange book extremists have taken control and buried the left and green bits of liberalism in my view.

If it happened in my own Party the Greens I would shout foul as well (indeed I have when it comes to the Irish Greens).

Nicko said...

I don`t think Norfolk Blogger is a liar or a fool.

As far as Nick Clegg goes, well no-one trusts politicians - at leadership level at least - anyway.

There is another issue facing the main parties, and I`m surprised no-one else here has picked up on it. All three parties are now committed to Britain`s future as a manufacturing nation, not least to reduce the over-dependency on the financial services sector which distorted the priorities of both Con and Lab from the `80s onwards. None of that will be possible without dropping foolish policies like the pursuit of a strong pound, which damages our capacity to export and also increases domestic demand for imports as against goods produced here.

Those of us who live in areas traditionally associated with manufacturing and engineering know that the political orthodoxies of the last 20- 30 years just haven`t delivered the goods (no pun intended !). It`s the job of the coalition to turn that situation round, and if they fail at that then they fail all together.

It seems to me that the Lib Dems have the problem have persuading ordinary people that phrases like `new politics` meant something and the Conservatives have to persuade those same people that they`re about something other than cuts. The fate of the coalition will rest on those very practical concerns and all the chatter of pundits and the like doesn`t really mean a thing.

Anonymous said...

great news re Gove and Teaching must be really proud of Coalition Policy

army teachers, more Greek etc

what great news

Stephen Wigmore said...

What did you expect?

You got 15% of the MP's in the Coalition. That means you get around 15% of the policies. That means 85% of the policies are ones you don't like.

What were you expecting?

Even assuming pure PR you only got 38% of votes in the Coalition. That means 38% of policies you can stand and 62% you don't like. Either way, tough.